Mitsubishi answers the call for a low cost, high efficiency supermini with its Mirage Juro. Jonathan Crouch reports
Ten Second Review
Mitsubishi's Mirage supermini has become the lighter, faster, more efficient Mirage Juro. It's smarter looking than its predecessor and extremely well equipped, though that has made it a little more expensive than the original version of this car was. Still, you get an awful lot for what you pay, ensuring that this model remains an interesting option for the budget-minded driver.
Mitsubishi tends to do small cars rather well. Not that you'd know, because they don't always get the marketing push they deserve in this country. In 2013, the brand introduced another one, the Mirage, an affordable, economic choice that really chimed with its time. Again though, it was somewhat overlooked by the market.
Mitsubishi though, has a somewhat higher profile in the UK these days thanks to the success of its Outlander PHEV. So it wants to give the Mirage another chance, relaunching it as the restyled, more efficient, classier 'Mirage Juro'. Will this supermini win budget-minded minds and hearts this time round? Time to find out..
You don't have to spend too long looking at the engineering of the Mirage to realise that it's been developed down to a price, with cost of running as a priority. Therefore it's not really fair to expect it to be a pin-sharp driver's car. For this Juro version, Mitsubishi has ditched the entry-level 70bhp 1.0-litre petrol unit that used to be offered with this car but kept the perkier 79bhp 1.2-litre powerplant, provided as before with either manual or CVT automatic transmission that takes the drag out of city driving. This engine is quite perky, in manual guise getting to 60mph in 11.7 seconds and running onto 112mph.
The suspension has been tuned for ride comfort rather than handling precision, which is what most buyers need for urban use. The powerplant can be a little strained when you get it out of town and you will notice a fair amount of wind noise at speed, with the three-cylinder engine also adding a thrumming accompaniment. It's nothing you couldn't live with though. The steering is geared for ease of use at low speeds, which makes parking very easy at the detriment of high-speed precision. All round vision out of the car isn't at all bad, with just the thick rear three quarter pillars that affect most superminis earning a demerit.
Design and Build
To create this Juro model, the designers sharpened the Mirage's look and feel. The bonnet now has a power bulge, the upper grille is wider and fitted with a mesh background and a chrome surround, while the headlights are restyled Bi-Xenon HiD units. The bumpers now have a much wider lower grille embellished with full-width 'twin-prong' chrome trim. At the rear, the style upgrade sees a revised bumper shape, separate slim horizontal reflectors and C-shaped LED combination lamps. The overall dynamic look has been further enhanced with an elongated roof spoiler as well as a wide-spoke 15-inch wheel design, which fills the wheel arches better than before.
Inside, the seats look smarter, with 'three-dimensional knitting' seat fabric, plus contrasting stitching available in full black. There's a revised steering wheel, too, with piano-black inserts and chrome accents. The instrument panel has been refreshed with a more subtle design featuring white illumination and a white-on-black dial background. The centre panel with its gloss-black finish enhances the overall texture and gives a more elegant accent to the interior. As before, this car is well packaged, with decent interior space front and rear. In fact, the amount of leg room provided is greater than that on offer from a number of bigger cars we could mention. There's a 235-litre boot.
Market and Model
With prices starting from around £12,000, so the Mirage Juro is campaigning in a slightly higher sector of the citycar markert than its budget-minded predecessor did. Still, it's extremely well equipped. You get auto air conditioning, 15-inch alloy wheels, auto headlamps and wipers, leather for the steering wheel and gearknob and privacy glass. Other features include keyless entry, heated front seats, cruise control, front foglamps, powered folding mirrors, a rear roof spoiler, rear parking sensors and a DAB stereo system with Bluetooth compatability for your 'phone. Standard safety kit includes twin front, side and curtain airbags, plus active stability and traction control, along with Hill start assist. For an extra £1,000, you can have full leather trim - and there's the option of the CVT automatic gearbox, again for around £1,000 extra.
Cost of Ownership
Here's where the Mirage Juro really gets into its stride - day to day running costs. Yes, I'm aware that most superminis are pretty good in this regard, but it's often been the case that the less you spend on your supermini, the older and less efficient the engine is. It can indeed be a false economy to buy the cheapest car only to be saddled with mediocre fuel economy, poor emissions and a next to useless warranty.
The Mirage counters with low emissions that see both models scoring 100g/km of CO2 or less. Thanks to features like 'auto stop and go' that cuts the engine when you don't need it, regenerative braking, low friction tyres, a high efficiency alternator and a sleek 0.27Cd drag factor, the manual 1.2-litre model registers exactly 100g/km, while the auto variant improves that to 99g/km. Both variants manage to extract 65.7 miles from one gallon of unleaded on the combined cycle.
There are Citycar segment models that are very cheap to run. Others that can take a reasonable amount of luggage. And some that claim to be able to seat five people. But finding one contender in this class that can do all of these things pitched in at a reasonable price is a lot harder than you might think. But if these are your priorities, then this Mitsubishi will meet them.
Let's be clear. It won't be your first choice if driving dynamics or cutting edge interior design are of highest importance, but that won't matter to the majority of buyers in this segment. They might care a little more about the fact that there are a number of slightly cheaper rivals on offer, but with Mitsubishi offers, you'll find that the price differences aren't great and in any case, might rapidly be covered by the impressively efficient running costs on offer here. Ultimately, for me, it's a car that makes a lot of sense.